People with an anxiety disorder will feel fear or worry to a point where it won’t stop and holds the potential to worsen over time. For some, anxiety impedes on their lives so much, they have trouble with important factors such as school, work, and/or relationships.
An anxiety disorder produces what are normal human emotions; fear, stress, and distress. However, the disorder produces these feelings to a level most people don’t experience it.
There are a variety of different anxiety disorders, all of which can be associated with specific triggers and symptoms. This article seeks to offer insight into all these anxiety disorders and how to properly treat them. At the end, we invite you to ask any questions you might have.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
A generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is when a person feels an immoderate amount of fear and worry more frequently than normal. Often, they’ll be worried about certain life aspects such as:
- Everyday routines
- Personal health
- Social interactions
The symptoms for a generalized anxiety disorder are as follows:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty controlling emotions
- Easily startled
- Easily tired
- Frequent bathroom use
- Muscle tension
- Trouble sleeping
When it comes to a generalized anxiety disorder, adults will over think about certain situations, such as job performance, health, finances, household. Teenagers will tend to worry about their performances in school and social life.
A panic disorder is when a person continuously has sudden panic attacks. A panic attack is an accumulation of fear that peaks within minutes and feel very intense. These attacks will either appear at random or be triggered by something.
People with a panic disorder are prone to feel the strongest physical symptoms associated with anxiety. These include:
- A feeling of impending ruin
- Heart palpitations
- Loss of control
- Shortness of breath
- Trembles and shakes
There’s a tendency for people with a panic disorder to attempt to avoid future attacks. They do so by staying away from triggers (such as places and situations). This kind of behavior can result in a person having notable problems in certain areas of their life.
Unlike the prior two disorders, a phobia-related disorder can stem into a variety of other disorders. All of these are fear directed towards a particular object or situation. Though many people with both a generalized anxiety disorder and a panic disorder may feel fear (or triggers) from certain objects or situations, a phobia-related disorder shows a substantial amount of fear directed towards these specifics.
People who experience a phobia will inevitably make all attempts to avoid the object or situation which they fear most. If they happen to come across this triggers, it’s likely they’ll feel overwhelming anxiety which might seem unavoidable. Though these circumstances may seem irrational to some, the feelings within people of a phobia should not be overlooked. They are very real and very serious.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the different phobia-related disorders there are:
- Agoraphobia – The fear of being in an open or enclosed space, in line or around a crowd, going out alone, or using public transportation. People with agoraphobia generally don’t feel all of those but will experience at least two. People with this disorder generally feel these situations will bring on a panic attack.
- Separation Anxiety Disorder – The fear of being apart from someone or something they’re attached to. Commonly, it’s been stereotyped that only children feel separation anxiety (usually from a specific toy). However, there are many cases of adults feeling similarly (usually from an important person). These cases tend to leave the person with separation anxiety feeling a sense of harm when the person or thing they’re attached to isn’t around.
- Social Anxiety Disorder – The fear of being in social or performance situations. People with social anxiety have a tendency to over-evaluate themselves due to the fact that they feel they’re being over-evaluated by others. In turn, this leads to embarrassment. Though it’s not the case with everyone, people with social anxiety disorder find their attacks will appear in a variety of situations, including their jobs or at school.
- Specific Phobia (also known as Simple Phobia) – the fear of a specific object or situation. For example, there are people who are extremely afraid to fly. Others will avoid a spider at all costs. And some can’t stand the sight of blood. Whatever it may be, people with specific phobia will only have an intense anxiety reaction when they are around the specific object or situation they fear.
There’s one last phobia-related disorder known as selective mutism, however, it is much rarer than the ones mentioned above. In fact, most people only experience this when they’re children under the age of 5. Selective mutism is when people don’t speak in certain situations even though they have proper language skills. Often, selective mutism is associated as an early trait of social anxiety disorder.
What Do People with Anxiety Risk?
There are a number of different reasons why a person develops an anxiety disorder. Most commonly, it’s passed down through genetics or emerges from one’s environment. Therefore, children of those with anxiety are prone to inherit the trait.
An anxiety disorder is often very personal and you’ll find that no two people with the illness experience it the same. With that in mind, the risks people have often vary from person to person. Still, there are some common traits seen among anxious people. These include:
- Behavioral repression
- Large amounts of stress
- Negative outlook
- Potential physical problems (such as heart arrhythmias)
People often ask if their anxiety is something they will inherit for life or will go away over time. The truth of the matter is it depends on your circumstances. People who have inherited anxiety from a parent will most likely live with it forever. Whereas those who find it their environment has produced it might have a chance at completely getting rid of it.
Regardless, an anxiety disorder is treatable and shouldn’t go ignored.
How to Treat an Anxiety Disorder
The two most common ways people treat an anxiety disorder is through medication or psychotherapy. However, these aren’t the only two ways and many medical professionals will encourage people to seek a treatment which works best for them.
When it comes to psychotherapy (also known as talk therapy), there’s a necessity in figuring out the specific anxiety a person suffers from. This is for the sake of directing therapeutic practices towards what’s causing the fear or worry.
Most of the time, people with an anxiety disorder will find themselves in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The purpose of CBT is to help people develop alternative ways of thinking and behaving – particularly, in terms of their anxiety. There are two general ways in which CBT has helped people with anxiety:
- Recognizing, stimulating, and then counteracting a person’s overwhelming thoughts.
- Revealing a person to their fear to help them engage in activities they once kept away from.
Cognitive behavioral therapy will either be managed through a group setting or on an individual basis. People who participate in CBT can expect homework to be given to them each session. This is for the sake of practicing what they learn in the real world.
The other form of treatment is anti-anxiety medication.
IT’S IMPORTANT TO KNOW MEDICATION DOES NOT CURE ANXIETY. Rather, it relieves symptoms for a short period of time. Anti-anxiety medication can be HIGHLY ADDICTIVE and bring on more problems than it set out to relieve. It’s greatly encouraged you seek out other forms of treatment before considering medication.
The most common anti-anxiety medication is known as benzodiazepines. They’ve been known to effectively relieve anxiety for a short period of time. Yet, people also have the tendency to build a tolerance to the drug. Therefore, many end up taking more and more as a means of feeling the initial effects. This is when the body and brain become dependent and an addiction forms.
Doctors will often only put their patients on benzodiazepines for a short period of time to avoid the development of a dependence.
You Have the Ability to Help
If you’re suffering from anxiety, there are a number of clinical trials researching the disorder. The purpose of these is to continue to find new ways to detect, prevent, and treat anxiety. If you want to offer a hand to science, this is your option to offer something to people of future generations who will face similar problems as yours.
Furthermore, you might have local support groups in your area. This is a place where you can share your dilemmas and/or achievements with others and learn more about theirs. To learn more about where to find one of these support groups, check in with your doctor.
If you have any further questions pertaining to what an anxiety disorder is, feel free to ask them in the comments below. If you have any advice to give to those suffering from an anxiety disorder, your word means a great deal and we’d love for you to share. Bedlamite ensures a personal response to everyone.
Featured Sketch by Courtney Kenny Porto